Glass Deva is one of the quirky artisan shops that the Chester moaning brigade say don’t exist in the city. Located on Rufus Court, owner Neela Chatakondu is a part time GP who makes fused glass as a hobby.
“I started about nine years ago” she says. “I knew that I loved glass, and I loved shiny objects. I found a microwave kiln, a normal microwave but it goes up to 900 degrees. I looked on YouTube and I taught myself via YouTube and mistakes!” She found that learning the hobby was a relaxing escape during a period when she was helping care for her parents in law. “It’s nice to be doing something different and unique. People started buying from me, friends and family, that enabled me to buy more glass, so I started going to fairs. The shop came up, it had no business rates and a very low rent, so it gave me a permanent base. ” As well as being the Roman name for Chester, Deva’ meant ‘the shining one’ in the old Indian language of Sanskrit, now it means ‘God or Good Spirit’.
The shop, which opened in 2019, offers a range of bespoke and personalised goods including greeting cards, magnets and family trees as well as models of Chester icons with customisable glass elements. The shop also sells and displays art by Neela’s friend Lindsey Atkinson.
Neela caught Covid in March 2020 just before lockdown and was hospitalised for 10 days. “It took me about 2 to 3 months to recover. I was able to do some drawing at home for my personalised greetings cards. I love being a GP, but I need to destress. Doing glass gives me an ingredient that isn’t going to go off- if I was doing cake making, I would be worrying about that, and actually eating the products! This is a nice safe place, lots of pensioners are starting to come now. Covid did knock me back, but the Government’s money did get me through”. Post pandemic the business expanded in November 2021 into a neighbouring shop to create a workshop area where Neela runs classes. ” You can make glass panels and framed pictures without cutting, to your personal design. In my setting, because my kiln cools down within 4 hours, if you do it in the morning you can collect it in the evening, whereas in all the other glass places in the UK you wouldn’t be able to get it that day.
“Rufus Court was nice because its off the beaten track but still in the centre of Chester. The footfall was a bit low; my daughter did the mural when she was 14! It shone a spotlight onto the area. Alexander’s brings a lot of people in, and the restaurants as well. I did Chester Art Beat and that bought a lot of people into the area, hopefully the Northgate Development will bring more people. It’s a lovely area with the Rufus Court residents looking out for each other.
“I like personalised products and I like tourists coming in, and I wanted them to remember memories of a nice time here. I draw and make the greeting cards myself. I did a lot of doodling when I should have been studying medicine. I did art when I was a child, but I didn’t take it any further. With these cards you can put the card away or recycle it, and you can keep the glass to remember the sentiment. I always like to make a unique product.”
“I have a lovely feeling when I save a life, or help patients and they send me a thank you letter, but when people buy something that I’ve made that’s also a gorgeous feeling that I can’t put into words.”
Glass Deva is open Thursday to Sunday with extended opening hours at Christmas